This is Part 1 of a two-part series on gathering user feedback.
Gather user feedback after initial launch to remain competitive
There are many important moving parts when it comes to winning in B2B SaaS. And setting up a regular cycle to gather user feedback is a key component to success.
Preliminary research on the market and users is crucial. However, just because you’ve launched the MVP of your product doesn’t mean that’s the end of research.
It’s important to continuously iterate or improve your product, not only to win in your market, but also to stay relevant. This means you need to listen to what your users say.
Listening means collecting user feedback, analyzing it, applying the insights, and creating a strategic feedback loop to further improve your product.
User vs. Customer: understand the difference
So “who” you should collect feedback from? The user or the customer? There is a difference between them.
In B2B SaaS, the customer is typically the person who holds budget authority. However, it doesn’t mean they are the product’s end-user. A customer may be a manager, department head, director, or other upper level leaders who have the authority to make buying decisions. Once purchased, your product may be used by others.
Analytics is one of the best ways to gather quantitative metrics in your B2B SaaS product. In fact, if you plan for this from the beginning, implementation may be easy and straightforward.
There are many tools available to track and view quantitative metrics in an application, including user behavior. These tools include:
Analytics tools provide a variety of data. In most cases, understanding the user’s journey can provide clues where to gather more feedback.
You can start to uncover pain points by reviewing how users navigate your product, where they spend most of their time, and where they drop off. This information can tell you what is happening as a starting point for further research.
One important point to note: make sure you collect user behavioral data in a legal and ethical manner. Depending on where you conduct business, your SaaS product may be required to be compliant with Europe’s GDPR or California’s privacy legislation. Be sure to check compliance requirements at every level.
👂Social media listening
Social media listening and monitoring can also be a powerful source of user feedback. Don’t ignore these channels. Look for:
- Brand mentions
Search for mentions of your own brand and see how people are talking about you. You might see a range from satisfied users praising your product to disappointed or frustrated users venting about how your product or feature might not work.
- Relevant hashtags
Industry hashtags can tell you where the market is headed. You might be able to reveal certain market trends emerging, or new competitors who you might have not been on your radar.
- Competitor mentions
Just like people mention you on social media, they also do the same for your competitors. This is a great place to learn about how your competitors are doing. Are the users happy or dissatisfied? Is there anything you might be able to learn and improve from what they are saying?
Social media tends to be a place for users to share honest opinions. It can help with your product, brand, and even conduct (a partial) competitive analysis.
You can conduct this analysis yourself, but it may be worth investing in tools that automate this process for you, such as Hootsuite, Talkwalker, Keyhole, Audiense, and more.
📧Surveys > Email or on-page
Surveys are arguably the most relied upon methods of collecting user feedback.
Companies tend to send surveys through email, but email has a low response rate. People receive so many emails throughout the day, and it may be tough to be visible enough for a user to take the time to fill it out.
Rather than email surveys, SaaS products can implement on-page surveys, commonly known as microsurveys. These are short questions — usually one to two questions — that pop up on the screen while users navigate the product. These on-screen surveys typically see a higher completion rate than email surveys. Why? On screen surveys are more relevant and direct.
While you could build your own microsurvey feature, tasks like this could become something that piles up in the backlog, as it isn’t directed to product launch or iteration. One way to go around it is to use a third-party tool, which would allow you to gather information without having to build with edge cases in mind.
Exploratory interviews typically take place near the beginning of research to help uncover pain points and frustrations people have. We recommend starting with a question you want to answer.
Let’s imagine you’ve found in your analytics that your users are using a feature in your product only once, and they never use it again. The analytics showed you WHAT is happening, but it can’t explain WHY. This is where interviews come in. Your research question may be:
“Why aren’t users going back and using [key feature]?”
Now that you have the question you want to answer, you can create a few more related questions. Then you should construct the questions you’ll actually ask people.
These questions might be:
- Tell me about the first time you used our product. What was going through your head at the time?
- When you encountered [key feature], how closely did it match your expectations? Was it easy? Hard?
- Tell me about how you use the product in your role….
While this may sound like a free-flow Q&A session, it is crucial to remember that you need to let your interviewee do the talking. A good rule of thumb is allowing your interviewee to speak 80 percent of the time.
Don’t derail them from their thoughts, because it may spark a source of new discovery or new information that you would have not thought to ask, which can lead to new opportunities.
Let’s imagine you have an idea for a new feature. Gathering feedback before developing the feature is a smart idea.
Prototype testing is a method of receiving feedback before launching a product or feature. It is the best method for validating ideas and preventing extra work and iteration before your idea hits the market.
Test early, and test often using this method. A prototype needs to be real enough to gather good data, so it doesn’t need to be coded or even built in a design tool like Figma or XD. You can test a paper prototype and gather great feedback. Build just enough so that it works and you are able to show what the intention of your idea is.
Don’t worry about making the prototype polished, either. In fact, it’s typically better for it to look rough. The better a prototype looks, the more the user will think it’s finished. Users don’t want to hurt feelings, so they may not share what they really think. If it looks rough, they are more likely to tell you what they really think.
The method you use for usability testing is very close to prototype testing. In usability testing, you test an existing product or feature with a (prospective) user. During the test, you observe how the user navigates through the product in real-time.
This is a great method to gain valuable, in depth feedback from users. This kind of feedback is difficult to collect in a survey. You might test your entire product or just certain areas of interaction identified as potential pain points in analytics..
Like prototype testing, be thorough when you conduct usability tests.
Be sure to:
- Ask open ended questions.
Rather than asking questions that users can answer with “yes” or “no”s, ask them to tell you what they are thinking or feeling at that moment. Don’t lead your users to answer what YOU want to hear. Leave out all bias.
- Encourage users to voice their thoughts while they navigate through your product. Ask them how they feel, why they made certain actions, what they like or dislike, etc.
- Find out what may be blocking them or what stopped them if they spend extra time on a particular feature.
- Make sure you ask questions and test something you cannot find out from your analytics or surveys. Validating your ideas through testing is OK, just make sure you also test to find out real issues or points of improvement.
In the next part of this article, we will talk about how to apply the feedback you gathered from the six methods above. We’ll also explain how to keep the feedback loop going and the best method to use.